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Archive for the ‘epistemology’ Category

The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God John Frame cover

John Frame. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1987. 402 pp.

According to the author this book was completed in December 1984 (382).  I finished this book thirty years after it was written on December 2014 and I would say that it is a work that is more relevant than ever.  This book is an exploration of a Biblical view of knowledge and specifically the pursuit of the knowledge of God.  John Frame does a masterful job showing us how Scripture’s teachings have bearing towards a Christian theory of knowledge.  Frame does caution early in the book that this work is more theological rather than philosophical but I think this is the book’s strength in that Frame is driven by a high view of God’s Word in his construction of a distinctively Christian view of knowledge.

This is the first volume in Frame’s four book “Theology of Lordship” series.  It so happened that I completed John Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life first, which is actually Frame’s third volume and I found that some of the materials on perspectivalism wasn’t necessarily new when I read this present volume.  Of course, the Doctrine of the Knowledge of God lays the foundation for the other volume in this series in that it articulate, explain and defend the concept that knowledge is perspectival; that is, there are aspects to knowledge that are inter-dependent though distinctions could be made.  Specifically, Frame sees a triade that there is a normative, situational and existential side of knowledge.  Throughout the book this triade is mentioned again and again and Frame shows its usefulness in theology, apologetics and philosophy.  I found it useful as a template in identifying people’s reductionistic fallacy when they assume only one perspective is right over and against the other.  Frame’s perspectivalism is also useful as a tool to make one conscious of being balanced and well rounded when one approach theology and philosophy.

The book is divided into three parts with part one focusing on the objects of knowledge, the second part on the justification of knowledge and the third on the method of knowledge.  I enjoyed part two’s discussion of various traditional epistemology followed by Frame’s identification of their problem.  This is helpful in equipping a Christian apologist to know how to refute bad epistemologies.  But I also appreciate John Frame’s direction in the second chapter of part two of the book in constructing a positive justification of knowledge.

Other parts of the book that I really enjoyed include Frame’s discussion about anti-abstractionism in which he defends the notion that abstraction is not necessarily a bad thing in of itself and that we can’t help but to think abstractly in various degrees whenever we think or communicate.  I also appreciate John Frame sharing his perspective on Reformed Epistemology which Frame devote an appendix of good length to the issue by means of a book review.  I also enjoyed the book’s discussion of the laws of logic and how the laws of logic ought to be thought of as a subset of ethics.  Frame’s discussion about the human faculty involved in the process of knowing must not be missed.  I was pleasantly surprised to find how holistic John Frame was in that he even discussed the qualification of a theologian!  Sanctification is important in the knowledge of God and vice versa!

As it is typical of John Frame’s work, I found the book to be extremely helpful and every page to be stimulating and thought provoking.  Frame’s work often make me think of theological methods and makes me more aware of my own method and the method of others in arriving at a theological position.  Typical of other work by Frame is that I enjoyed reading this book and enjoyed God in the process—his work often leads me to worship God!  It is not a dry systematic theology book, as I found the book to be quite a good devotional as well.  This book is also good for those who have read a lot of introductory materials on Presuppositional apologetics and would like to expand more indepth Christian epistemology from a Van Tillian perspective.  I highly recommend this work.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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Among some quarters on the internet of those who advocate Gordon Clark’s variety of apologetics, the epistemology they subscribe to is Scripturalism, which is the belief that unless something is stated in Scripture (or deduce from Scripture), everything else does not constitute knowledge.  In other words, one cannot know anything unless it comes from Scripture.  Everything else does not constitute knowledge, especially of it’s derived through empirical means.

It’s one thing to huff and puff on the internet one’s epistemology against others.  It’s another thing to see if that kind of epistemology is livable.  An advocate of Scripturalism recently had the unfortunate event of having his daughter suffer through a car accident and suffered from some brain injury which he shared on his blog and then a new blog he set up with updates on his daughter’s progress (Praise God she’s conscious!).  I also couldn’t help but to wonder what happens when real life interrupts one’s blog agenda of defending one’s epistemology and see if this epistemology is consistently applied to real life.   So I thought I do a quick CONTROL + F (find) on this particular Clarkian webpage and his other blog to see how many instances he use the verb “know” or it’s cognate form, to describe state of affairs that cannot be deduced from Scripture.  I was actually surprised with how when real life tragedies interrupts one’s epistemological games , the Scripturalist’s epistemology comes to a crashing  halt.

I pray that God will bring healing for his family, physical healing for his daughter and to have his household in godly order.  I also hope that God will use this time to also sanctify this man who has been rather contentious, slanderous and divisive towards other believers in the faith, especially of the Van Tillian camp.

For now, here’s a sampling of what this gentleman claims to know, that surely cannot be deduced from Scripture.  One will also note how some of the claims our friend is derived from empirical observation:

” I know I have a lot of internet brothers and sisters who read this blog so I would greatly appreciate your prayers. “

” Here is a link to a story about the crash that is mostly correct.  Meaghan was not where she was supposed to be and not with whom she was supposed to be with (at least as far as her mother and I knew).  The media got some things wrong.  Meaghan is a Sophomore going to be a Junior and late last night I found out she was wearing a seat belt and that the seat belt contributed to her injuries.  The impact of the accident was on the drivers side rear door.  Meaghan’s fractured her skull on her right side.  “

“This is just a very quick update to let folks know Meg and Tracy came home last night from Charlottesville.”

“On the way out to some picnic tables to eat I got a kick out of Meg laughing and telling Caitlin; “Did you know that when I was in the hospital I flipped one of the nurses off?”  Of course Caitlin already knew the story, but Meg just thought it was the funniest thing.”

“I have to think that made her three hour drive go by quickly.  I could just imagine under different circumstances Meg telling Caitlin, Keila and Vic how “SAAXXY” he was (if you have ever heard Meg say the word sexy when speaking of a boy, which seems to be about every boy, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about).”

“I confess I didn’t know there was a difference between a brain injury and brain damage and perhaps it is a matter of semantics.”

“I should preface this by stating that Terri is a wonderful Christian woman who knows a number of people very close to Tracy and I.”

” At that moment Meg decidedly and with purpose lifted her finger; the middle one.  I know for all those who know Meaghan that is the sign that our Meaghan is still with us. “

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For those of you who have heard of Alvin Plantinga but do not really know who he is and want an audio rundown of this contemporary Christian philosopher, over at Apologetics.com they have an MP3 audio show sometime this past summer

http://www.apologetics.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=156

THough it cost $1.99, I think it is worth it.

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James Anderson, a REformed Christian apologist (VanTillian and also Reformed Epistemology synthesized), have finally released his book, titled “Paradox in Christian Theology”:

http://www.authenticmedia.co.uk/AuthenticSite/pages/product/product.asp?prod=9781842274620&cookie%5Ftest=1

From the articles I have read written by him, he indeed has a sharp mind and good writing.

I will be getting it later, when I save the money for it.

For now, I have too many books to read!

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http://chaosandoldnight.wordpress.com/2006/12/15/plantinga-for-the-rest-of-us-part-1/

While I have spent most of my time studying Van Til’s student’s work,

Eventually I desire to study about Plantinga

The blog entry linked would be part one of a series by John Fraiser, who graduated from a seminary whose President is one of my favorite Preacher in the annual Shephards’ Conference

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